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Whakapapa – A Foundation for Genetic Research?

Abstract

Whakapapa is the foundation of traditional Māori social structure and it perpetuates a value base that locates people through their relationships to the physical and spiritual worlds. As part of a new envirogenomics research programme, researchers at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) are developing a study with an iwi (tribe) to identify combinations of genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to current health status. A major objective of this study is to utilise whakapapa (genealogical information) to explore patterns of genetic variation unique to the iwi and to correlate these with potential disease or ill health. Genetic testing and screening raises numerous ethical issues, particularly when indigenous peoples are the subjects. This paper will outline ESR’s strategy for addressing indigenous concerns about genetic testing and how whakapapa forms an integral part of the envirogenomics research programme.

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Authors and Affiliations

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Correspondence to Annabel L. M. Ahuriri-Driscoll.

Glossary

Hapū

clan/sub-tribe

Iwi

tribe

Kaitiaki/kaitiakitanga

guardian/guardianship

Kaupapa

purpose/agenda

Kawa

protocol, etiquette

Manaakitanga

caring, hospitality

Māori

indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand

MātaurangaMāori

Māori knowledge

Mauri

life-force, essence

Ngāti Kahungunu

tangata whenua of Hawkes Bay and lower East Coast of the North Island

Pepeha

a saying that can locate the speaker to a place, a region, and an ancestry

Rakaipaaka

iwi of Nuhaka and Mahia peninsula, Hawke’s Bay

Tangata whenua

people of the land

Te Ao Māori

the Māori world

Tikanga

custom, obligations and conditions

Tūpuna

ancestors

Wairua

spirit

Whakapapa

genealogy/genealogical information

Whakatauki

proverb

Whānau

family

Whanaunga/whanaungatanga

relative/kinship

Whenua

land, placenta

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Hudson, M.L., Ahuriri-Driscoll, A.L.M., Lea, M.G. et al. Whakapapa – A Foundation for Genetic Research?. Bioethical Inquiry 4, 43–49 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-007-9033-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-007-9033-x

Keywords

  • Genomics
  • Oceanic ancestry group
  • Genetic screening
  • Ethics
  • Culture